Need a reason to smile? Beyond the joy that comes from your everyday life - like your kids and spouse - experience tells us that sunshine can add a serious dose of delight to your day. And with daylight saving time just around the corner (clocks jump forward at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 12), you'll soon have an extra hour to soak in those rays. Here's how you can make the most of this time of year:
1. Host a block party in your backyard
Between projects like adding custom patios and creating an outdoor living room beneath a pergola, you've put a lot of hard work into your backyard. You've probably been itching all winter to kick back on your outdoor furniture or cook burgers on your beautiful BBQ island. Now is your time to do just that by hosting a party in your backyard!
This doesn't need to be a formal affair - just call up your neighbors or drop flyers in the mailboxes on your street. Simple items like hotdogs, burgers and brats are easy enough to make in mass quantities, and yard games like cornhole or miniature golf on your putting green offer plenty of excitement. If your block party lasts beyond the extra hour of sunshine, just turn on your outdoor lighting to continue the fun.
2. Throw a pool party
Why wait for summer to enjoy your pool and surrounding pavers? If you live in a warmer climate (like the lucky folks in Southern California), then dive into the fun ASAP. That extra hour of sunlight means you can take advantage of those blue waves calling your name even after getting home from the office.
After all, who wouldn't want to relax in the pool after a long day on the job? Invite your co-workers or a few friends to enjoy an evening swim. With such busy schedules, it's important to set aside time to connect with the people you care about, and an impromptu pool party presents the perfect opportunity.
3. Exercise outdoors
We'd all love to be fitness buffs, but between kids, work and home duties, hitting the gym consistently can be next to impossible. Make it easier to stay healthy by exercising right in your backyard - and be sure to invite your friends and neighbors. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that doing cardio with other fitness gurus can actually motivate you to exercise at greater intensity - maximizing the effects of your workout session.
You have plenty of options for group exercise in the backyard. For example, play a workout video on your outdoor media center for a more virtual experience. With a great sound system, you can blast the music so everyone can dance into a healthier version of themselves. You can also hire a yoga instructor to lead a class in your backyard.
4. Get crafty with the kids
Do you remember laying in bed as a kid wondering why you had to sleep when it was still light outside? Thanks to daylight saving time, pretty soon, sunsets will be as late as 8 p.m. While you may not want to change a bedtime routine (we know how tired little tikes can be!) you can help your kids feel like they made the most of their day by spending more time outdoors.
It's OK to get a little messy if you're crafting outside. Break out the glitter!
Consider crafting with this pool painting idea featured on Parents.com. Place a large piece of parchment in a plastic kiddie pool, and toss in a few plastic balls covered in paint. Your little ones can create unique works of art by grabbing, turning and tilting the edges of the pool. If you're OK with getting a little messy, squirt-gun painting is a great option, too. Post pieces of paper on an upright surface, such as a tree or easel. Load up some dollar-store squirt guns with paint in a few of your favorite colors, aim and fire!
5. Start a new project
There's nothing that brings a family closer than working together for a common cause. With the sun staying out a little longer, there's no better time than now to start an outdoor project. For example, try building a tree house together. Older children can begin learning the importance of tool safety, while young ones can give ideas for the design or paint the pieces of wood. You can also start a family garden. Everyone can pick a flower, vegetable or fruit type and work together to plant and water.
Life is too short to let the sun set without spending time outside. Make the most of this extra hour by spending time with family and friends in your backyard.